Category Archives: Laws of the Universe

Lessons from the Universe on the Myth of the Tortured Writer

Kait forwarded me an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert. She sent this to me because it touches on things that Kait and I have talked about, like forgiveness and how it’s really hard. After reading through this, I decided to look up her TED Talk, which is what I wanted to show you.

There’s something I feel like I’m on the brink of really accepting–that I don’t have to be broken to be creative. This has always been a serious fear of mine, that if I manage to achieve better mental stability and a healthier outlook–if I were to let myself be really happy–I wouldn’t be able to find that place I need to be in to write, and I would lose something I value.

If you read along with my blog (thanks!) then you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been tending toward an outlook that there’s something Else giving me direction. That I’ve been choosing to think that I write what I write because the Universe wants me to put this stuff out there, and that’s why I’ve been given the gifts and experiences particular to my life. I recognized that concept in this talk. This talk which deals with Subsequent Book Syndrome, which, OMG, yeah, I have. I’ve also been trying to pay attention to things which seem to pop up over and over from different sources, dots that say “Connect me!” I think some of those dots are in here.

So anyway, here’s the video, and I’m going to write.


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Filed under Laws of the Universe, Signs

The B Side of “Why Do You Love Me?”

Here’s where I am right now…

I believe that there’s magic in the world.

I’m not big on kismet, and, lately, I’m not much for coincidence either. I believe there are things–or a thing, the Force that’s with us, whatever, that connects us and probably directs things, in Its own, unfathomable way. Right now I choose to call this the Universe, because that’s a term that’s not bound up with negativity for me. And, where I used to see the Universe as the kind of entity one has to watch out for, the kind of entity that would reach out and smite you for things like being hopeful, or confident, or pleased with yourself, these days I’m choosing to see It as something much more benevolent. Something that wants me to contribute something to Its world.

Writing helped me get there, because when I write, I’m taking from all these bits of my experience and forming them into something new that teaches me. Feeding from my real life experience makes the writing feel more real, attracts readers, and helps my work speak to them.

If the Universe didn’t want me to speak to them, why give me those experiences? I could talk about this for a while, but I have before, and that’s not precisely where I’m going. Whether or not that particular idea resonates with you, that’s the perspective I’m coming from.

A long term relationship

I don’t have a whole lot of long-term relationships, especially not close ones, and there are reasons for that which I’m not going to get into. But there is this one person, romantically to be named Person A, whom I have known for a very long time and is still around. The last week, maybe two, since I tend to get extra contemplative around my birthday, something about Person A has been poking at my brain.

Why do you love me?

Do you ask people that? This is something I avoid. For me, this is one of those questions I ask because I need others to validate me. Oh, the pressure! And, since there is probably no answer that will ever work to make me feel great about myself (I understand that’s supposed to come from me, not someone else), it’s never going to work. Then I would get upset at them for not making me feel better, and upset at myself for not being good enough for them to actually care enough to actually give me really good reasons for it. Ugly, ugly business. So I got out of that business.

I avoided asking that question to others, and, eventually, I didn’t even ask it of them in my head so much anymore.

Years later…

Enter Person B. Here’s another person who’s been around for a while. And I think I even see a bit of similarity between Persons A and B that explains why I haven’t burned through them yet–or they through me–but that’s not really where this is going. Or maybe it is. Because everything’s connected.

Person B, like Person A, is, in many, many ways, very different from me. We often come at problems from different places, and this generally makes for good conversation, sharing, and sorting out of various things.

On the other hand, in many ways, I know that I’m just the sort of person which Person B cannot stand. This is one of those things I probably knew but really jumped out at me the last week or two, and I find myself thinking something akin to “Why do you love me?” So I back off on the thought.

A funny thing happened at the Girl Scout cookie booth…

I was selling Girl Scout cookies with my troop outside of the grocery store, and there was this woman who came up to wait outside the door for someone to get off work. In her arms she held this tiny little dog. The girls were interested, of course, and asked to pet the dog, but the woman told them that the dog was very nervous and it wasn’t a good idea. And my girls were very good and backed off, so yay for that.

Well, after a bit, the woman came over and started talking to us and telling us about how the dog had been a rescue, and did they know what it means to be a rescue dog. And, after a bit of confusion over police K-9’s and such, we reminded the girls about our recent trip to the animal shelter and how we met animals who had to be removed from their homes.

At this point, my daughter spoke up to talk about our most recent rescue, a half-starved and dehydrated Great Dane who was let loose to wander in the woods, we suspect by someone who may have been unable to afford his care.

Well, this woman looked at me at me very intensely and said, “You’re the type who rescues animals, I can see it in your liquid eyes.”

Isn’t that just an odd thing to say to a perfect stranger at cookie booth? She didn’t strike me as a particularly strange person, nor did she say anything of that nature or depth to anyone else. So why was she moved to make such a personal remark to me?

That’s the kind of thing I think the Universe moves people to say. It’s a sign. When odd things happen, you’re supposed to pay attention and try to find meaning.

In which I identify as a compassionate person…

There’s this one thing that Person B brings to me on a semi-regular basis. Person B often has issues in which subordinates who screw up and must be dealt with. And I almost always defend the subordinate, make up possible excuses for their behavior, plead for leniency, and, in general, exercise my very compassionate perspective all over what Person B has told me. My self-censor suggests that this might be an annoying thing to do and maybe I should stop.

But as I’m working on not being so cowed by that censor bitch, I recently stopped to wonder why Person B keeps bringing these to me, knowing that I’m probably going to stick up for the other guy.

Is it possible that Person B isn’t just blowing off steam and wants my more compassionate perspective? Because, look, I love Person B, who has great qualities out the wazoo, but they’re not the most compassionate person I know. Maybe they know it too, on some level, and want me to help them see it from another angle.

Is that part of it? I never thought about my compassion for others, which is something I think I may have in some quantity, being something of value I might bring to this relationship, to someone for whom compassion, including compassion for themselves, isn’t a strong suit.

Wait, “liquid eyes”? Is my compassion visible?

There’s an interesting notion, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not like blonde hair/blue eyes, but what if there’s some extra sense that we have that allows us to see, without even knowing we’re seeing it, that someone has something we need in our lives?

All those years ago, did Person A–Child A–look at me and think, “I need her in my life”? Person A can be highly critical, and I think probably took a lot of knocks in that direction as Child A. Could Child A look at me and see that I might offer something else? That I might be safe?

One thing that spins around in my head with the rest of it: 

In being so concerned with why Person A should be interested in continuing a relationship with me, in being so concerned with getting my own needs met with the Why do you love me? stuff, or protecting myself by refusing to ask that question anymore, have I ever before really considered that Person A needs something from me they can’t or are not willing to put into words? Am I meeting that need?

The Universe says, “Slow the crazy train.”

Assuming the Universe is the benevolent entity I current choose to believe it is, this whole bizarre chain of thoughts and events was not put here for me to freak out about whether or not I have spent over half my life being so selfish and obtuse that I’ve not paid proper attention to the needs of Person A and have slighted them in some way. So I’m not going to do that. (Big deal for me, by the way.)

But I can start opening my eyes and turning my very analytical brain in that general direction.

Meanwhile, that strange stranger with the squashed-face dog gave me the gift of identifying myself as a person of compassion, and helped me see that as something of value. Like the Universe told her to remind me that I have value and things to offer–but not to make it too easy– make me think about it and work it out on my own.

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Filed under Laws of the Universe, Signs

Okay, time to be worried

Who is John Galt?

It’s nice that they made a movie out of the first part of Atlas Shrugged. I don’t know how many people actually saw it, but maybe that means that when I’m moved to ask the question I’ll get a few less blank stares. I love the expression, how its meaning in the book so clearly says what I want to say when I want to use it. I used to have a “Who is John Galt?” license plate frame on my car, but this really just resulted in people asking me for an answer, which is either very complicated, or a simple answer of “a fictional character from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand” which is pretty meaningless. So when it broke I didn’t replace it.

You know what other fiction line is in my head a lot? It’s that line from Pretty Woman. Vivian says it, but it’s more when Edward says it, when he sort of gets it and he tells Phil, “We don’t make anything.” Phil says, “We make money, Edward.”

That’s where we seem to be now. Not a whole lot of widget-making going on. Not a whole lot of people building stuff. For years the country has just seemed to be turning into one big service industry, serving itself, income generated going to suits who have no idea what their company is about because they were brought in from some other company in a totally unrelated field. They weren’t brought in to help the company do what it does better, they were brought in to make more money. They’re not invested in better, just in more. They’re not invested in the company, just their own resume, and they make decisions that make other suits happy, until they’re not, and then they go on to some other headquarters.

I have a feeling that anyone who’s spent quantity time in retail over the past few decades knows exactly what I’m talking about. As an employee and as a customer, it’s hard to feel a sense of loyalty to a company when the people running it don’t seem to have any such devotion to its standards or the people who support it.

So of course when Walmart’s telling us we can “live better” by shopping there, buying foreign-made widgets at lower prices, why shouldn’t we? Times are hard and who can afford to pay more for what they need when they can get something perfectly serviceable at a lower price? I totally get that. It’s hard to condemn people for making those choices, especially when inflation is such that it becomes, really, about what they can afford and it’s not much of a choice at all. Why should anyone buy higher-priced, American made products–going out of their way to even find them!–and have to deny themselves some of the extras in life when they could get similar stuff cheaper and have more?

So I get it. I get why we are where we are. It just scares the crap out me.

And boy did it scare the crap of me last week at Disney World. My six-year-old daughter and I drove down there for her spring break. I find myself at Disney probably a bit more than the average person. It’s not a multi-thousand dollar, once in a lifetime trip for me. I’ve got family to stay with down there and we try to keep it on the cheap as much as possible. So part of what I know about Disney is that it just doesn’t have an off season. There’s no time you can go when it’s not crowded, when you don’t have to wait for everything, etc.

Um, except right now. The last week of April was lovely. The temperatures were great. There were two days when it was quite sunny and in 90s (hey, it’s Florida), but even those didn’t seem bad at all. No pouring rainstorms in the middle of the afternoon. Overall, a really nice time to go down.

Wow, I’ve never moved so freely around the Magic Kingdom. Seriously. I don’t think we waited an hour for anything. Tons of the rides were listing 5 minute wait times. I didn’t use Fastpass (the special ticketing thing where you get a reserved time to come back and don’t have to wait the standby line) once this trip. There was really no point. It generally would have been more hassle to remember the Fastpass return time and hike back over to the ride than to just wait out the relatively short line.

It’s not like it was totally dead, but damn, I have never seen it like that.

It’s sort of easy for me to be in denial about how things are going. I know that my husband’s business is home-construction related, that it has suffered big-time, that they’re barely keeping their heads above water and barely getting enough orders to keep the lights on and to keep the few employees they have left in hours and paychecks. But he’s a strong, silent type, isn’t one to talk about it much, and we go on hoping the whole housing thing will pick up.

Somehow it’s easier for me to be in denial about what’s going on in our area, with the business that pays for my groceries, but 5 minute wait times at Disney World I can’t ignore. Go figure.

Yeah, this is what I take away from a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. I’m just angsty like that. While sitting around waiting for the Electrical Parade I started thinking about how Joss and Dylan had never been to Disney. Got all maudlin and shit and almost cried. But, you know, I decided that James Patterson probably felt this about his bird kids too (I forget if that was book 2 or book 3 of Maximum Ride) and was thereby excused.

I guess the bright side type message is that if you can possibly afford to make the trip, now seems like a great time for a Disney vacation.

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Filed under Laws of the Universe, Signs

Karma points, what should I spend them on?

Ever have points from some promotion or other, and get really uptight over actually spending them? Because you need to find just the perfect, best thing, because it takes a lot of time to save up this many points, and you don’t want to waste them… (This makes me think of games like The Sims and saving up weeks of wages for a new +10 Comfort bed, and then not wanting to spend it because there’s always something else. Thank goodness for the money cheat!)

Does Karma work like that? Or does even asking for stuff negate one’s whole ability to cash in on any mystical positivity they’ve built up because the point of doing good is to do it with no desire or expectation of having it returned? Meh, I guess I’ve more of a Magnificent Obsession mindset.

Anyway, this is called babbling.

I’ve gotten a few of these emails from Goodreads lately, to vote in the Goodreads Choice Awards in various categories. Today was the first time I saw my title in the list of answers in the email, though, in the Debut Author category. I guess my title hasn’t gotten enough votes to actually show up in the covers.

If you really liked Hush Money and it was, by chance, your fave amongst books by debut authors you read this year, I’d love it if you’d go over there and drop me a write-in vote, in the Debut Author category, or in Young Adult Fiction or Fantasy, Cover Art…wherever you think appropriate. Who know what might come of it.

Speaking of Karma, in our last episode I directed you to Andrew Mocete’s blog on which he had posted about some writers in need this holiday season. His most recent post is about the fantastic response he got for that post as a new blogger. So for any of you who went by and checked that out, took steps, promoted those causes in some way, thank you. And it’s not too late to do it now, nor to do it again.

I’m on vacation. My daughter is off from school and will be into the second week of the year. I’m trying to rest up and get rid of some of the serial illness that has bogged me down lately, and generally trying to clear cobwebs for a reboot. I actually read a freakin’ book all the way through, watched all my Netflix discs which included Camp Rock and Letters to Juliet and I’ve been absolutely obsessed with Style Savvy for DS. When did working retail get fun?? I’m completely addicted to this freakin’ thing, and Dominic’s totally interested in me, I can tell.

So…posty things I can think of that are probably coming up:

  • I’m going to be talking about ROW80, my goals for that and how it’s going to completely change my life (or else)
  • Probably going to be giving you my impressions of the first few episodes of Buffy Season Eight, as well as some thoughts on comics in general (No, giving them to you. Not doing impressions. Do I look like I’ve got the energy to start doing impressions?)
  • There will have to be a year-end wrap-up on how this indie author thing has gone (preview because I suck at waiting: I’ve passed 5k copies of my one little title)

Oh, and one more link. Thirteen-year-old Corey of CoreyReads posted a nice review of Hush Money. If that’s your thing, maybe you’d drop by there, compliment his excellent taste, and encourage this next generation book blogger?

I hope you’re all having wonderful holidays. I have to go now and pick out cute clothes for anime girls with way too much money who are ALWAYS polite.

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Filed under Laws of the Universe, writing

A Few Minutes of Your Time

I was recently informed by writer friend, Andrew Mocete, that it would be my duty as Fandrew #1 (the official biggest fan of Andrew Mocete), to pimp his upcoming blog post. Naturally, I slavishly agreed to this, not even knowing what it was about.

Well it’s about Christmas, what it’s about, and how you can help three writers this holiday season. Plus, there’s a Bill Murray tie-in, which is always a plus. Doing this isn’t going to take a lot of your time. It doesn’t even have to take any money if you don’t have anything to spare. If you do nothing else, just please pass the information along to the people your own sphere of influence. If we all did that, even if only a percentage of the people you reach are able to help out financially, imagine the good we could do for each other.

So please go check out Andrew’s post and the links he’s included. Sharing buttons are at the bottom of his post. Go now and improve your karma. The Universe is watching.

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Lessons from the Universe Continue to Plague Me

Some days are just full of headaches and embarrassments.

The headache is mainly just that I’m sick with one of those nasty, painful colds. At least we didn’t have a snow day for the THIRD day in a row. I know I’m not supposed to consider school my babysitter, but come on.

Anyway, I feel terrible about this, like I just have total promo fail. I can’t believe my reach is still so small that I can’t even give away 10 copies of a book. And it may be partly that Imogen and I have been doing cross-promo and she’s already tapped as much of my small network as she’s gonna. And it’s probably also that I had to go our around 12:30 yesterday, didn’t get home until 8pm, and then just crawled into bed, so the PM world didn’t really know about the giveaway. So basically, everyone who commented yesterday wins, and I appreciate it. I’ve already sent those out.

So a friend of mine, who is somewhat down, has written to me with some questions about self-publishing. And like the indie fiend that I am, I’m responding with a long letter, attempting to take advantage of his frustration and bring him over to the Dark Side.

And while I’m doing this, an email I wrote a few weeks ago come back to haunt me.

While I was away for that reunion thing over Thanksgiving weekend, I got this email from the people at BookBuzzr, basically saying: hey, since you’ve been with us, your rank has gone from this to this. Do you know how that happened and have any marketing tips we could share with our readers?

Well, now, you guys know that I am always happy to babble about that stuff, so I did. With my husband tapping his foot, I furiously typed this really long email in which I brain-dumped everything I could think of, most of which you guys have already read. Only, you know, I thought I was just talking one-on-one, and I was pressed for time, and I left out the self-effacing humble stuff that I actual feel, but just didn’t have time for that morning.

So in the middle of what’s supposed to be a kick-ass, indie-rah email to my friend, I get a promo in my inbox that mentions my name in a link. And follow it to the reprint of this previous email.

Now, don’t get all mad on my account. I say I didn’t know it was coming out, but I’m sure it was a misunderstanding on my part and I’m not mad. You’d be AMAZED and frightened by the amount of stuff that goes over my head and that I just plain forget. If you’re one of those writers who goes about in a fog most of the time and makes the absent-minded professor look like Franklin Planner-Man, you know what I’m talking about. (I am, actually, the antithesis of Kait Nolan. And suddenly the Anti-Kait has a ring to it…) But it leaves me sort of nonplussed and kind of embarrassed, and concerned about whether, perhaps, I came off as a big no-it-all with a huge, bloated head. Plus I might have tried to sound more smarter than I do around here, talking with you friends.

The lesson here, for all of us, is to remember to be careful in our communications with others, to pay attention to whether or not we’re projecting what we intend, and that what we say electronically can live on for a long time in ways we didn’t originally expect.

Heroes ‘Til Curfew, for enquiring minds who want to know, is going fairly well this week. I enjoyed the 2500+ words I wrote yesterday from Dylan’s perspective, many of which were written in Burger King, with its wonderful indoor playground. You know, when I mention fast food playland, NO ONE takes their kids to unhealthy places like that. Oh well. Deal. I got words down and no one had to die, and if someone had to suck down some chicken and fries for the cause, so be it.

I have now exercised two days in a row, and three times within a week. Now, I will grant you, it hasn’t been a lot of exercise, but I have turned on the Wii and done something, and I demand at least partial credit for this. Plus, there was water consumed that was not even carbonated. I know, right? But I did it anyway.

That’s it! That’s all the babbling you get for now. I have things to do, tissues to destroy, and vulnerable writers to corrupt, and I must move on.

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Filed under Contests, Heroes 'Til Curfew, Increasing Kindle Rank, Laws of the Universe, links, self-publishing, Talent Chronicles, what not to do, word count, writing

Random Thoughts From My 20-yr High School Reunion

So here I am, back from that 20 year high school get-together thing. It wasn’t a formal reunion or anything, it was more like a small smattering of people from four different graduating classes, showing up at the same bar at the same time.

In a way, writing YA is like sentencing yourself to high school all over again. (Your crime is time and it’s 18 and life to go…) At least the way I work, I have to go back there. I have to be in that place. It’s not hard for me to embrace my inner teen. A big part of me never grew up and is stuck there. I guess I just didn’t realize how much.

Anyway, it made me think some more about what it’s like to be young. Remember how dumb that was, when just talking to a guy could start rumors, teasing, speculation, petty jealousies?

And then those same boys grow up to be men who kiss you on the cheek, just to say hello.

Isn’t that lovely?

And aren’t you glad to be a grown up.

The day after this thing, my husband and I went to visit a friend who wasn’t able to make it to the thing. And he’s sitting there asking us questions about it. Now, my husband has this excuse that he missed the last two years of high school with us because he moved away and didn’t move back until it was all over. But I…don’t have that. So we’re talking about who was at the thing, and I was like so-and-so, but I didn’t really talk to them, and so-and-so, but I never made it over to that side of the room. And the friend says, “Did you just sit in the corner all night?”

“Um, yeah, what are you, new?”

“Look who I’m talking to,” with eyeroll.

We had both spoken at once.

And, yeah, what I realized this weekend was that you can’t expect to spend your school career trying to avoid eye contact, and then the next couple decades trying to put the whole miserable experience behind you, and then expect to remember anyone or have them remember you.

So I guess what I really learned this weekend was that, while I thought I took elements of myself and really focused them into something more extreme that is Joss, well, probably myself that was was a bit more extreme than I like to remember.

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Filed under characters, insecurities, Laws of the Universe, me me me, writing

Rantus Interruptus Continuous: In which the Universe has a lesson for me

Arg, I am an idiot.

I do things I know I shouldn’t do, because I know I’m just going to frustrated and pissed off, and that’s just going to make my whiny and depressed. And I have no right to be whiny and depressed.

But then, as I was writing this post about how I wasn’t going to rant about this, the world shifted again. And people, when the Universe gives you a sign, you need to work through what it means. Which is what I’ll be doing, should you choose to continue reading this.

And now that we’ve had THE most confusing beginning to a blog post EVAR, I’m going to go back to the beginning.

Last night, in my email, a Twitter notification of a new follow by @JamiGold. So because Twitter can’t just give me everything I need in the email, I have to actually go to Twitter to read her bio and follow her back. And what’s her latest tweet?

I know, I know! I should never have clicked that. What was I thinking? I was thinking that I should not be clicking that. But I’m just going to peek.

And then it’s scroll scroll scroll through a lot of opinions that are making ZERO sense to me, and I am taking it WAAAAAY too personally. And it wasn’t a mean, nasty angry thing AT ALL. It was just…insensible.

I mean, what I kept reading, over and over, is that because the books aren’t vetted, self-published books aren’t a good risk for these readers. They acknowledge that there might be great indie reads out there, but trad-pubbed books, while not a sure thing, are a safer bet. Ok, yeah, that’s totally logical, if you’re looking at a new trad book vs. a new indie book, all things being equal and no buzz, no reviews, etc. But here we have people saying I wouldn’t buy a book by an indie unless I met them first.

So you can see how this would make me sad. I just don’t get out much.

And the problem is that when I read this stuff I take it whack-job personally. In my head, I’m whining at these people going, what the hell? Compare my sales rank, compare my cover, compare my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, check out the page of links to blog reviews I have on my website, READ a few pages to see if I’m literate. Judge my book on the things that matter in a book. And then decide if you want to sink the whole 99cents and a few more hours of your time into it.

Maybe it just comes down to this: no one likes to be dismissed. And I think that part of the way these comments touch me is because that feeling of dismissal, that what I can do (write an entertaining book) doesn’t matter because of what I am (an indie author), feels so much like the frustration of being a powerless child.

Here’s what I came to when I decided I wasn’t going to harp on this– and I’m sorry to cuss because that makes me sound angry, but I’m trying to have a personal power moment over here, so indulge me: This shit does not apply to me. Not in some way of I put the awesome IN the mutha-fuckin’ sauce! and this shit don’t apply to me, but more in the way of this is not my readership right now, and their opinions are not relevant in my world right now.

I’m not going to win these readers over by arguing with them. (Oh don’t worry, I didn’t get involved.) There are so, so many literate people in the world today, you guys. Do you know what’s been the most surprising thing to me since publishing? How many non-writing readers are out there embracing indies, supporting indies they love, and how many more just aren’t aware that we’re even out here, that there’s really a difference. If a book looks crappy, they avoid it. If it looks good, they try it. So many readers out there judging books on the book stuff. I think you’ll find, overwhelmingly, that the people who are most negative about indie books are other writers, for whatever their reasons, which are not my business.

Part 2

So yeah, all set to just let this all go and write you this quickie post about how I wasn’t going to rant about what I was going to rant about. And then the Universe stepped in.

Last night, after reading a lot of those disheartening comments I got whiny and tweeted (is there a word for a whiny tweet, like twined?)

A few friends showed up to say cheering things to me, and remind me that I had nothing to be depressed about and I did feel better. And while I was worrying about this crap that I can’t fix, I sold my 3,000th copy of Hush Money and totally missed it. I mean, how far up your ass does you head have to be before you notice you’re being an asshat?

Nevertheless, this morning, I found myself still ticked off enough to be composing a ranty post in my head. Then I got hold of myself, decided to post the Rantus Interruptus instead, and move on with my life. And then, as I was writing this post, @JamiGold shows up. And she says,

And I’m like…Really? Seriously, I was rendered kind of panicked and speechless. Which, if you’re an introvert or social phobic, you might understand. Or if you can imagine Joss’s reaction to, Well heck, Joss, everyone knows who you are. [cue garbled choking sounds]

And also a little…Really? Like, I’m doing this right, this marketing/platform stuff that I was so sure I fail at and would be the ultimate reason for my bookfail?

Oh yeah, dude, it’s totally all dramarama like this in my brain all the time. You do not want to live here.

Ok, so now my brain is totally melted. There are people on Twitter I want to attempt light banter with, but everything’s scrolling by while my mouth is doing floppy fish thing. And @JamiGold says,

(There was one in between where she said she hasn’t read mine yet due to the scary TBR pile from Hell with which we are all familiar.) Wow, Jami, condense all my effort into 140 characters of pure validation. :sucker punch:

No, this is not hyperbole. I’m very emotional. Quit rolling your eyes and embrace this special moment we’re having together, dammit.

Because this is why I decided to tell you the whole story of my stupidity in reading that comment thread. Because we don’t ignore the things the Universe tries to tell us. Especially when the Universe talks via Twitter, because then you really know it means business. Maybe. Whatever. Fine. Have we learned anything?

1. I must not read comment threads about prejudices against self-pubbed books/authors. Evar.

2. Those are not my people. You are my people. Later on, some of those people will hear about my books, be intrigued. They’re NOT the unreasonable people I thought I saw last night. That’s silly. They’re people who love books. They’ll look at my books, at the fabulous cover art, at the reviews, and they’ll judge us on the book stuff. Someday.

3. Until they do that, I’ve got a lot of other things I need to put my energy into. Like getting you guys Heroes ‘Til Curfew. And, to that end, I’m leaving you with a link while I go work on finishing the shit that I started.

The above link is mandatory for all writers, although adult language and beverage warnings do apply.

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Filed under book blogs, books, goals, insecurities, Laws of the Universe, me me me, rant, self-publishing, Signs, what not to do, writing

Konrath’s Cross-Pollination: What do you think?

This post is eventually going to be about character cameos, guest-appearances, and working with other authors on the same book. It’s inspired by this post on Joe Konrath’s blog. Readers, I would love to hear what you think of these ideas.

I’ve talked a lot about Kindle rank lately and one thing I think about often is that it’s going to be harder and harder to break into those higher numbers as more authors/publishers seriously enter the ebook market. (Seriously as in stop insulting us with higher-prices for digital than paper, $10+ ebooks, etc.) As we continue to analyze what works and more motivated people do what they need to do to move up those ranks more quickly.

And, as Joe Konrath keeps hogging up all the slots and filling more…

Did you read that post? Does it make you grind your teeth how you’re pushing for a few hundred measly words a day, and he’s at a point, reached through a combination of talent, drive, experience, and discipline, at which he makes it look like child’s play.

Yes, I greatly esteem him. And not in an Elinor Dashwood way, though I’ll admit that past posts of his have induced Misery-inspired thoughts from time to time.

But beyond being boggled by the output, and by the amount of different stuff he must be able to hold in his brain at any given time, the massive amounts of creativity, I really enjoyed that post because the concept of working with other authors to cross-promote is one that has been very attractive to me.

Besides talking about his own characters crossing into different series, he also talks about working with other authors, having his characters appear in their series, and vice versa, writing stories together, etc.

Since Kait Nolan and I talk every day, work so closely together, and have complimentary specialties when it comes to writing fiction, we’ve often said that we should write something together. But it never happens. And there are good reasons for that. She has multiple jobs and not enough time to write her own stuff. I have to spend a lot of time spinning my wheels with this whole emo-artist persona that I wear around the house like bunny slippers. But I sort of think that, at the end of the day, we just  might not be ready to do that yet. I think maybe ego-wise, and probably mine more than hers, we might not be ready for that level of sharing and cooperation yet.

We do have a super-seekrit project proposed with a handful of other authors. An over-arching world concept under which each participating author would be able to write their own, autonomous story or stories. Sort of like writing fan fiction, except that the aforementioned concept was an original one that Kait came up with, not something taken from a book, movie, or TV show.

This was a marketing idea that captured my attention when I saw the Legend, TN website, the group of authors who created it, and read their first collection of novellas. I stumbled across that while Googling for something else and was intrigued because the fictional town is where I lived. The concept was able to get me to read not one, but four authors I had never read before. I thought it was quite brilliant.

It was not a new idea for me. Have I ever showed you my wall of Harlequin Intrigues. Remind me to dig up a photo when I have more time. Need a few hundred of those from the 80s and 90s? I need to move them and the idea of recycling them is too sad. Anyway, Harlequin’s done a lot of short series branding, having a few authors write books about the same family or bits of the same over-aching plot. A great idea that had customers looking for the next book in the story, no matter which Harlequin author had written it, possibly generating new readers for some of their authors.

I’m not really optimistic about us getting around to the super-seekrit project any time soon. Everyone is really busy with their own worlds right now, but fictional and real-life.

I’ve recently been offered a spot in an anthology. I would LOVE to be able to participate in that. It was an honor to be asked, as there are really good indie authors involved, and I’m sure it would help me find new readers. And yet, I’m not sure about my ability to write something at the requested length. I’ve never done a short before. But I’m going to try.

Anyway, I’ve gotta wrap up this rambling, so…

Q for writers: What do you think about the idea of working with other authors? Think you could do it? Think you could let another author write YOUR character into her book? Think you could stand back and let someone else tinker in your universe?

Q for readers: What do you think about these ideas? Do you buy anthologies for a single author’s story and find new authors to love? How would you feel about trying a new author in order to follow your favorite character?

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Filed under author blog, books, characters, ideas, Laws of the Universe, self-publishing, Violations, writing

Wanna Nano Buddy?

Yeah, I did it. I went and signed up all fresh and new this morning. Here’s my profile, if you think you might like to buddy me. It’s a little slap-dash. I have no idea what years I’ve tried to do Nano before, but I can tell you that I’ve never finished. I think I’ve had two accounts, the second one because I couldn’t get back into the first one for my second year because of all the website problems. This year, though, I’ve put all the past behind me, all the hiding behind a handle, afraid to tell anyone that I write, and I’m there with my real name. So there. [self-directed “so there”]

I’m working on Heroes ‘Til Curfew. I know that, technically, it’s supposed to be something fresh and new. I had hoped to have HTC out in beta and be able to possibly start the rough of the third book for Nano. Well, there’s a dream that’s long behind me as I fall further and further behind. I really feel like I need something to get me going right now. And trust me, I’ve got at least 50, 000 new words left to write in this draft.

I’m not sure how I’ll do with the goal. I’ve never finished. Nano is a difficult concept for me. The idea of waiting to start something until a set date, setting that date around one of the busiest and most stressful parts of the year, and then all that just writing whatever to get words out, the frantic output to be fixed later–that’s not really how I work at all. So I may end up plodding along at my own pace and being behind, but I think it will be nice just to be part of Nano fever, because just the energy that surrounds it is sometimes helpful–if you don’t let it stress you out and drive you mad.

Anyway, if you’re doing Nano this year, feel free to add me.

I’m feeling really reflective today, and I was just thinking about what I said above, about how I had been hiding behind internet handles and how I avoided telling any one in real life that I was a writer. It’s been really interesting, and very nice, to be able to do this with a shiny book in my hands and my name on the cover. People in my life have been very kind, supportive, and downright enthusiastic. But I’m not sure what it would have been like without that shiny book, and I wonder if I ever would have done it.

A lot of Hush Money is about fear. I know I said this in an interview somewhere, that one of the movie lines that repeated in my head while I was writing, and continues to live there when I think about the story, is from Pump Up The Volume. It’s the part at the parent meeting when Paige Woodward, the girl who blew up her kitchen, takes the stage and passionately tells the crowd how she’s just been going through the motions of being perfect. “We are all really scared to be who we really are.”

And didn’t think too much, until I started to out myself as a writer, how much of Joss’s secrecy was actually mine.

I got another bit of fan mail this morning, from someone who hasn’t quite reached the end of the story, but wanted to tell me how much I made her feel like she was there, in school, living this life. (As a writer, I should have better words for what those messages mean to me.) Looking forward to her finishing the book, wondering how she would feel at the end of it, I started thinking about the ending of the book myself, and how I lived it.

Writing that ending was very exciting. There was a sense of Oh my God, this is finally over. That feeling of exhilaration was both Joss’s, having just come through the other side of this battle and solved this big problem that had been hanging over her, as well as mine, having come through it with her, and also having come to the end of a struggle of my own. I felt like I had conquered something too. As I was typing her thoughts, I was thinking, this is starting to sound like the end of an after school special.

And then I decided that was just fine.

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Filed under books, characters, Heroes 'Til Curfew, Hush Money, ideas, insecurities, Laws of the Universe, nano, NaNoWriMo, Signs, Talent Chronicles, writing